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The Middle East’s Leading English Language Daily
Since 1975
Friday, October 6, 2017 • Muharram 16, 1439 A.H. • 2 Riyals • Vol. XLII • No. 305 • 20 Pages •
Kalashnikovs set to be made in Saudi Arabia
arab news staff
SEAN CRONIN
LONDON: The world’s most famous
assault rifle is set to be made in
Saudi Arabia under a string of
preliminary defense deals signed
with Russia.
Russia’s Rosoboronexport said it
has struck an initial licensing
agreement that could lead to the
Kalashnikov being made in the
Kingdom.
The agreement covers the “pro-
duction of Kalashnikov AK-103
assault rifles and cartridges for vari-
ous purposes,” a statement said.
A memorandum of
understanding between
the two sides could also
see Russia supply Saudi
Arabia with Kornet anti-tank
guided missile systems, rocket
launchers and automatic gre-
nade launchers.
The preliminary deal also
involves the transfer of knowledge
in the defense field to Saudi Arabia.
The Kingdom has set a target for
half of its significant defense budget
to be spent within the country.
This plan now includes the
“localization” of the AK-103
assault rifle and its ammunition,
according to the Saudi Press
Agency.
The Kalashnikov assault rifle is
famed for its
reliability
in wars
from Vietnam to
Afghanistan. There are reckoned
to be at least 100 million AK-47s
assault rifles in circulation.
The deal comes as the Russian
rifle maker is seeking to attract
private sector investment.
Kalashnikov wants to increase
the production of arms by as much
as 80 percent this year and create
1,700 jobs in the process.
The AK-47 model was developed by
Mikhail Kalashnikov after World War
II, and was inspired by complaints he
had heard from Russian soldiers
about their rifles while he was recov-
ering from a wound in 1942.
It has been the standard military
issue rifle in Russia since 1949.
Saudi-Russian relations
reach new heights
MOSCOW: Russian
President Vladimir Putin
hosted Saudi Arabia’s King
Salman for talks at the
Kremlin on Thursday,
cementing a relationship
that is pivotal for world oil
prices and could decide
the outcome of the conflict
in Syria.
Putin received the monarch in
the gold-decorated St. Andrew Hall,
one of the grandest spaces in the
Kremlin, attended by soldiers in
ceremonial dress and with an
orchestra playing their countries’
national anthems.
“I am sure that your visit will
provide a good impulse for the
development of relations between
our two states,” Putin told King
Salman as they sat alongside each
other in the Kremlin’s lavishly
decorated Green Parlor. “This is the
first visit by a Saudi monarch in
the history of our relations and
that in itself is a landmark event,”
Putin said.
The king invited Putin to visit
his country—an offer the Russian
leader accepted — and said they
planned to keep cooperating to
keep world oil prices stable.
King Salman told Putin that
Iran must stop meddling in the
Middle East, Russia’s Interfax news
agency reported.
“We emphasize that the security
and stability of the Gulf region and
the Middle East is an urgent neces-
sity for achieving stability and
security in Yemen,” the king said.
“This would demand that Iran
give up interference with the inter-
nal affairs of the region, to give up
actions destabilizing the situation
in this region.”
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel
Al-Jubeir told journalists that
“relations between Russia and
Saudi Arabia have reached a his-
toric moment.”
King Salman and President
Putin signed a slew of arms and
energy deals.
Saudi Arabia signed preliminary
agreements to buy Russia’s S-400
air defense systems and anti-tank
guided missile systems and receive
“cutting-edge technologies,” the
state-owned Saudi Arabian Military
Industries (SAMI) said.
These agreements are “expected
to play a pivotal role in the growth
and development of the military
and military systems industry in
Saudi Arabia,” SAMI said in a state-
ment.
The leaders of the world’s largest
energy exporters discussed an
extension
of
an
OPEC
(Organization of the Petroleum
Exporting Countries) agreement to
cap oil output.
The two countries signed a series
of multibillion-dollar investment
deals including one to create a $1
billion fund to pursue energy proj-
ects.
Moscow and Riyadh worked
together to secure a deal between
OPEC and other oil producers to
cut output until the end of March
2018, helping support prices.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid
Al-Falih said Saudi Arabia is “flex-
ible” regarding Moscow’s sugges-
tion to extend the pact until the
end of next year.
Agreements on global oil supply
have helped oil markets to stabi-
lize, Al-Falih said.
He said Saudi Arabia wants to
develop ties with Russia further,
particularly in the private sector.
“I see huge opportunities for the
business sector in both nations,” he
said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov said agreements came in
the fields of “energy — not only
traditional but also nuclear power
— and also in cooperation in
space exploration (and) agro-
industry and infrastructure proj-
ects.”
Later, speaking at a news brief-
ing, Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia is
working closely with Russia on
uniting Syria’s opposition, adding
that Moscow and Riyadh agreed on
the need to preserve Syria’s territo-
rial integrity and state institutions.
Al-Jubeir also said that both
Russia and Saudi Arabia believe in
the principle of non-interference in
other countries’ internal affairs
and in the principle of territorial
integrity.
For his part, Lavrov focused on
the common ground, saying the
two leaders had agreed on the
importance of fighting terrorism,
and finding peaceful solutions to
conflicts in the Middle East.
Lavrov said the meeting between
the Saudi monarch and Putin saw
a “particular focus on Syria, Iraq,
Libya and Yemen.”
Separately, the Russian-Saudi
Investment Forum concluded on
Thursday in Moscow with
announcements of joint business
and investment projects.
Ibrahim Al-Omar, governor of
the Saudi Arabian General
Investment Authority (SAGIA),
said: “We’re working on improv-
ing the level of FDI (foreign direct
investment) to the Kingdom by
attracting more investments.
We’re working to give the private
sector a bigger share in the mar-
ket.”
The energy minister said bilat-
eral cooperation in the last two
years has benefited the oil market
by stabilizing prices.
“It has breathed back life into
OPEC, which found itself…unable
to swing its production as supply
was persistently high in 2014 and
global inventories were steadily ris-
ing ahead of demand,” Al-Falih
added.
Detailed reports — Pages 2 to 4
MARIA DUBOVIKOVA
SPECIAL TO ARAB NEWS
Daesh loses its
last stronghold
in northern Iraq
No central command and relentless airstrikes led
to their rapid collapse, expert tells Arab News
BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister
Haider Al-Abadi on Thursday
declared the end of the militant
organization, Daesh, in north-
ern Iraq after security forces,
backed by a US-led military
coalition and the Shiite-
dominated paramilitary troops,
retook the town of Hawija and
the adjacent areas.
Hawija, 45 km southwest of
Kirkuk, was the last Daesh
stronghold in northern Iraq. It
was seized by the radical forces
in 2014 after the dramatic col-
lapse of the Iraqi army.
The town was the “Daesh com-
mand and control headquarters in
the north.” It supervised and con-
trolled militant operations on the
eastern bank of the Tigris River
where Kirkuk and Diyala provinc-
es are and the western bank of the
river where Nineveh and
Salahuddin provinces are.
“Today, the city of Hawija was
liberated by the hands of the Iraqi
security forces, with nothing
remaining under Daesh control
except the border with Syria,”
Al-Abadi said in a joint televised
press conference with French
Prime Minister Emmanuel
Macron.
“In this case, we have defeated
terrorism in Iraq. This could not
have been done without the cour-
age of our heroes and the backing
of the international community,
including France.”
Hawija, surrounded by moun-
tains, was the biggest source of
Daesh fighters and supplies and a
haven for the group’s leaders and
their families who had fled from
the liberated areas. More than
78,000 people were estimated to be
trapped inside Hawija, according
to the UN mission in Iraq.
“The liberated areas include
the center of Hawija, Abassi,
Rashad and Riyadh towns in
addition to 300 small villages,” a
senior military officer involved
in the ongoing military opera-
tion told Arab News.
“Our troops will keep advancing
until they are in touch with the
peshmerga (the Kurdish troops in
the area), so not an inch will be
left for Daesh,” the officer said.
Regaining control of Hawija
facilitates the mission of the
federal forces assigned to secure
the oil fields in Kirkuk and get
them back from the Kurdish
forces, which drove the army
away in the summer of 2014
and took control of them.
Baghdad seeks to impose its
constitutional federal authority
in the areas that were outside
the borders of the Kurdish region
before 2003. The Kurdish region-
al authorities declared a rebel-
lion against the constitution and
the federal government by hold-
ing a controversial referendum
on Kurdish independence late
last month.
“We do not want an armed
confrontation (with Kurdistan)
nor do we do want any hostility or
clashes, but federal authority must
be imposed in these areas,”
Al-Abadi said in the conference.
“My call is for the peshmerga
to be part of the federal forces
and to operate under its com-
mand in order to secure these
(disputed) areas,” he added.
Backed by Iraqi and interna-
tional military aviation, the
military operation to re-take
Hawija and the nearby areas was
launched on Sept. 21 with the
participation of thousands of
Iraqi troops, including the coun-
terterrorism squad, the federal
police, armed units, and some
Popular Mobilization Units.
Lt. Gen. Ra’ad Jawdat, the com-
mander of the Iraqi Federal Police
during the operation, said 270
militants were killed, 640 square
km of land was seized and 141
targets were liberated.
Dislodging Daesh militants
from these areas is expected to
take time; on the other hand, Iraqi
forces did not need more than two
days to liberate Hawija itself, mili-
tary sources told Arab News.
Military officers and analysts
said that the morale of Daesh
fighters was significantly affected
by the group’s huge losses in
Mosul, Tal Afar and Shirqat towns
during the last few months. Daesh
lost more than 20,000 fighters
during the military operations
launched by the Iraqis to re-take
Mosul, the largest Iraqi city seized
by the extremists.
“Daesh fighters have been
feeling that there was no point in
fighting. Their will to fight was
broken,” Maj. Gen. Abdulkareem
Khalaf, former manager of oper-
ations at the Interior Ministry,
told Arab News.
“Daesh leaders are fugitives, on
the run, and unable to maintain
contact with each other. Their
central command is missing and
the severe airstrikes carried out
by US forces in the region prior to
the launch of the operation all
contributed to the militants’
rapid collapse,” Khalaf said.
Al-Abadi and several military
officers contacted by Arab News
said that the next target for the
Iraqi security forces would be the
western Iraqi-Syrian border which
extends for more than 600 km.
“Gaining control of the bor-
ders means regaining control of
security in Iraq. All our troubles
and disasters over the last few
years have come across the
Syrian border,” Khalaf said.
“Al-Abadi’s next priority is
securing the Iraqi border. The first
stage will be the Iraqi-Syrian bor-
ders as the situation there is
urgent; then the Iraqi-Turkish
border, and the last stage will be
securing the remainder,”he added.
Related reports —Page 6
IRAN
I RAQ
SAUDI
ARABIA
TURKEY
BAGHDAD
SYRIA
100 km
Hawija
Mosul
Saudi King Salman being received by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin on Thursday. (SPA)
Editor in Chief
Faisal J. Abbas
— Page 3
What stronger Saudi-Russian
ties signify —
and what
they do not
SPECIAL TO ARAB NEWS
SUADAD AL-SALHY
l
King Salman issues stark warning to Iran from Kremlin
l
Riyadh, Moscow sign mega energy, arms deals
l
Both countries working to unite Syrian opposition
Cultural week brings
the spirit of Saudi
Arabia to Moscow
Russia and Saudi Arabia:
Finding common ground
and friendship
Top Russian official Konstantin
Kosachev tells Arab News
Kirill Dmitriev writes in Opinion
‘Russia does not want to act
against Saudi interests’
Russia and Saudi
Arabia seal deals
worth billions
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3
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